An image from the Arenkiel lab featured on the cover of Genes and Development
The brain has a sometimes surprising capacity to adapt to the constantly changing environment. This plasticity can make it possible to recover abilities after brain injury or to learn a new task or language. The brain adapts by rewiring existing neural networks and forming new ones to acquire new functional properties. The Arenkiel lab at Baylor College of Medicine and the Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s Hospital has been investigating what drives the development and integration of adult-born neurons into existing circuitry, something that happens on the order of tens of thousands per day.
An image from a recent paper from the lab was featured on the cover of Genes & Development. The study showed that the neuropeptide oxytocin is necessary for the development and synaptic integration of adult-born neurons in the mouse olfactory bulb. They found the oxytocin receptor drives morphological and synaptic development by regulating the expression of proteins and transcription factors necessary for synaptic maturation throughout adult-born neuron development.
The image shows stylized adult-born neurons highlighting their dense and far-reaching dendritic arbors. These neurons are key to maintaining sensory plasticity and adaptability throughout adult life.